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Saturday, July 21, 2018

On the movie wagon

It’s early morning and Nikhil is driving his girlfriend Preeti to her office. As he drives through the crowded Delhi streets...

Written by Sagnik Dutta | Published: January 4, 2009 3:35:39 am

A group of college students and theatre artistes drives through Delhi to make a film

It’s early morning and Nikhil is driving his girlfriend Preeti to her office. As he drives through the crowded Delhi streets,the car becomes a claustrophobic private space where simmering tensions surface. An intricate tale of entangled relationships unfolds with the stationary camera focussing on the windshield and the protagonists in the car throughout the 29-minute film,Going Straight. Delhi serves as a backdrop to this complex tale.

Going Straight has been shot by a group of college students and theatre artists based in Delhi. Sahil Chatterjee,a post-graduate student at JNU,recounts their filming experience: “We got an old camera from a friend’s place and downloaded an editing software from the net for post-production work. The movie was shot entirely inside my Wagon R car. We pooled in the rest of the expenses such as petrol on our own.”

This dialogue driven movie unfolds in real time and was shot without any cuts. Some dialogue had to be improvised as there were unexpected traffic jams on the roads. Interestingly,the protagonist of the film,Nikhil,drives through the city but the audience hardly gets to see him.

Clifford Alonso,a 19-year-old student from Sri Venkateswara College,who played Nikhil,was initially hesitant to play a closeted gay character. For 24-year-old Ghazal Javed who plays Preeti in the movie,it was a welcome break from her regular work in a production house. This group of youngsters aims to promote the movie on a larger scale but is short of finances.

In the film,the city is seen primarily through the windows of the car as it appears to the protagonists. Yet the emotional landscape is reflected in the exterior. For instance,as Nikhil drives through posh,upmarket South Delhi localities,the audience can see the tensions in the relationship between Nikhil and Preeti unfold. The hidden dimensions of Nikhil’s personality are brought to the fore as he drives inside the JNU campus,away from prying eyes where he meets his boyfriend Aman whom he has been secretly seeing for sometime. The portrayal of the characters is nuanced as the director Sahil Chatterjee avoids adopting a didactic stance towards relationships. “Nikhil enjoys to an extent the adulation and love that Preeti showers upon him and cannot let go off her. However,he doesn’t have the courage to make his relationship with Aman public as there’s too much at stake.”

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